According to The British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey which samples the opinions of almost 4,000 respondents, the British public has relaxed its stance on immigration in the UK.
The numbers convey an unprecedented rise in positivity as attitudes towards immigration haven’t been this optimistic since 2011.
The survey found that 47% of Britons now believe immigration is valuable to the economy which is a huge leap from the 21% in 2011. This year, only 17% of the public believe immigrants impact the economy negatively. A huge 42% believed immigrations were generally bad news in 2011.
If we jump forward to 2015, a similar poll by Ipsos MORI found only 33% of Brits believed immigration impacted the UK positively. In 2018, this number has risen to 44% with only 23% of the public believing immigrants still dilute British culture.
It is undeniable that Brexit has influenced people’s beliefs: the results display a stark contrast from a pre-Brexit world to the current climate we’re living in now. Incredibly, 39% of people claim Brexit has aided the shift in support for migrants.
According to a poll commissioned by Lord Ashcroft, 33% of British voters expressed the belief that immigration was ‘out of control’ in 2015, pushing forth a rallying point for Leavers in the EU referendum. After the vote, campaigners cited the result as a response that the British public wanted tighter border controls and stricter migration targets.
Theresa May’s cabinet is already abandoning ship. The Brexit Secretary, David Davis, has thrown in the towel which was shortly followed by Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson’s resignation. The results from the polls are sure to ruffle some more feathers in parliament – from both sides of the political pond.
Vexed by Brexit negotiations, the British public has swayed the other way in regards to migration targets. The Home Secretary Sajid Javid appears to be listening as yesterday Javid declined to comment on the Conservative’s signature strategy of reducing net migration to below 100,000. This was a pledge that was backed by David Cameron and ignited the fire for Brexit Leavers in 2016.
Javid claimed: “I’m not going to get into numbers”, continuing that “the government has been working towards getting net migration down to more sustainable levels, and that objective continues and will continue in a new immigration system as well.”
This isn’t the first time Javid has distanced himself from Theresa May: he abandoned May’s immigration policy built around a ‘hostile environment’ to a much subtler and softer ‘compliant environment’.
Other factors such as the NHS and its highly skilled migrants appear to take precedence in debates with the British public. The Brexit vote might have focussed around anxieties with immigration, yet people are now acknowledging the benefits migration has to the UK.
However, Ipsos MORI found a paradox in British opinion: over half (59%) of the public still want lower immigration numbers. The survey also found that support for divorcing the EU has actually risen.
The BSA report stated: “There is little sign here that the EU referendum campaign served to make Britain less tolerant towards migrants.”
Instead, the researchers who compiled the survey suggest that the British population have come to value migrants “to a degree that was not in evidence before the referendum campaign.”